About this park
Dirk Hartog Island National Park is part of the spectacular Shark Bay World Heritage Area. The island takes its name from Dutch sea captain, Dirk Hartog who made the first European landing on Western Australian soil there in 1616 leaving behind a pewter plate.
Known as Wirruwana to Malgana traditional owners, the natural scenery of the island is dramatic from the wild coastal cliffs along its western edge to pristine beaches that stretch on forever on the eastern side. It’s also known to be a top fishing spot, so don’t forget your fishing rod! In fact, don’t forget anything as there are no supplies available on the island.
Checkout huge surf that bursts into kaleidoscopic shades of blue as it crashes against 200m high coastal cliffs and explodes from blow holes to create plumes of rainbow mist. You can swim on secluded beaches or dive and snorkel at Surf Point. It’s a pretty awesome place. Towering sand dunes and dirt tracks make four-wheel driving a must for getting around. If hardcore four-wheel driving and camping are your thing, this is the place to go. We’re talking super remote folks!
The national park has a rich European history. From the 1860’s until the early 2000s, the island was a pastoral station and has also been a base for pearling and guano mining. (That’s bird poop to you and me!). History buffs will love the historic sites and ruins that shine a light on the past. And talking about shining lights, don’t miss the restored lighthouse at Cape Inscription. It’s illuminating!
But wait…… there’s more!
Dirk Hartog Island is Western Australia’s largest island, and one of the world’s most important islands for mammal conservation. When Dirk Hartog landed there in October 1616, it was pristine. Since then, introduced plants and animals have damaged the island and most of its native animals became locally extinct.
Turning the tables on this decline, Return to 1616 is one of Australia’s most successful restoration projects. Since the early 2000’s it has removed sheep, goats and feral cats from the island and is slowly reintroducing the native mammals that used to live there. Although they’ve had a tough time and are still rare on mainland Australia, these unique and threatened animals are becoming increasingly easy to see when camping on the island. Go for a night walk with a torch when you visit and you might just be lucky enough to see one! Thanks to Return to 1616, these animals are doing well in the national park but they need your help to keep it that way.
You can help protect the island's amazing inhabitants and support the restoration project when you visit by:
- Checking out the Shark Bay island protection brochure and island protection video before you leave home to help you plan your visit.
- Driving slowly, or don’t drive at all between dusk and dawn when native mammals are most active. These precious animals use the tracks as well and they don’t know the road rules!!
- Leaving your pets at home.
- Not bringing any firewood onto the island. Pests can hide in firewood and hitch a ride to the island.
- Making sure your footwear, clothes, packs and camping gear are free of soil, seeds, insects, spiders and other animals.
- Packing your food in clean, sealed plastic or metal containers rather than cardboard boxes.
- Making sure your fresh food is free of soil, ants, snails or other small animals.
You can visit Dirk Hartog Island National Park and explore the Return to 1616 project from the comfort of your own computer before you leave home with this cool virtual tour. Got a pair of virtual reality goggles? Upload this link – bit.ly/ReturnTo1616 for the full experience!
Dirk Hartog Island National Park is an amazing nature and wildlife experience. For more information on the surrounding area, visit Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Link Explore & Discover The Treasures of Shark Bay World Heritage!
Plan when to visit. Read this safety information about fishing, diving and snorkelling. Consider travelling with a personal location beacon (PLB). In the event you need to be rescued it could save your life!
- The park is remote and its hazardous coastline has large surf, 200 metre high cliffs, blowholes and dangerous marine animals.
- Notify a reliable person of your trip plans so you can be traced in an emergency.
- Be prepared for the heat. Take at least 10 litres of water for each person per day.
- Exercise extreme caution near cliff edges. Supervise children at all times. Go to Recfishwest for important information about rock fishing.
Canoeing and kayaking
Plants, wildlife and fungi
Visit the Atlas of Living Australia for a list of species recorded in Dirk Hartog Island National Park.
We recognise and acknowledge Malgana people as the traditional owners of Dirk Hartog Island National Park.